I’m not one for those “chain emails” where you are asked to pass on a hug, or post this on FaceBook to support whatever is the Cause du Jour, or paint your face blue to show you love the NHS, but when my sister sent me one, which was to send an inspiring poem to one person, and then ask 20 or so of your contacts to send one each to the person who sent you the email, I thought that it was quite nice.

Unfortunately, one of my contacts got herself in a real pickle – she’s even less technologically gifted than I am, which is saying something! – and only managed to send a poem before having a meltdown. I had to reassure her that it was only a bit of fun, and not to panic.

Since then, I’ve only received two poems back in return. And I’ve had a very similar email from two other people! The first I declined, but was obviously a mutual friend of that sender and one of her sendees, as the sendee then sent it to me again! I have sent that on to another few people, but who knows if they will wish to participate!If you’ve received from me, but don’t wish to take part then that’s fine. These things are only fun, and inspirational if you want to join in; if you don’t they can become a source of guilt, upset or frustration.

So I thought I’d share with you the poem I’ve sent to my two people, and the ones I received back, in the hpe that they too will inspire you.

This one is mine, (no, I didn’t write it, obvs) that I sent to others: I chose this one for the language, the images and the uplifting thoughts. I remember introducing a class of nine to ten year olds to this poem, and the pleasure they had in rolling the words around their mouths, discussing the adjectives and feeling the language was fantastic.

Pied Beauty

By Gerald Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things-

For skies of couple colour as a brinded cow;

For rose moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced-fold, fallow and plough;

And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.


All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth; whose beauty is past change:

Praise Him.

We’re doing OK

Everything is fine here – we are both working, and so our weeks are busy. Mr FD holes himself up in his study, I hole myself up in mine, and we meet briefly when one or the other makes a hot drink for us both, or over lunch. I’m busy because I’ve actually got a couple of new students, and also because working from distance means I need to write a follow up email to the students – which I wouldn’t do if we were meeting face to face.

On Monday morning I plan my lessons, and prepare the lesson summaries as much as I can; then from Monday afternoon onwards I’m teaching, or doing admin work. Although I’m finding it tiring I am very grateful to have work, as I know that so many self employed people are facing financial problems. We also are saving money as I’m not travelling to Clermont every day. In fact, Soozy (which we collected the Saturday before the lockdown) has hardly moved since she came home!!

Our treats involve going next door, to the restaurant-turned-takeaway to buy something. The people only opened the restaurant a couple of weeks before the lockdown meant restaurants had to close, so we’re supporting them as much as we can. We’ve had pizzas, burger-and-chips, and the most delicious chocolate/apricot gateau. That was so rich I had to eat my slice over two days! Today they’re cooking Cantonese rice and Spring rols, but we forgot to order, so we’ll probably just have a pizza.

As we’re out in the country confinement isn’t affecting us too much. We get out most days for a walk, but we have to remember to take our Attestation. You aresupposed to print out a new one every time you go out, but so far I’ve been tippexing out the date and writing today’s date. It seems remarkably wasteful of paper and ink to keep reprinting, and tippex shows that one is not trying to cheat in anyway. I’ve not been stopped any way, so I’ll plead ignorance if I have to.

Shopping is reasonable, with most things available. We are definitely using local businesses now, and trying to spread ourselves around.

But confinement has been extended to mid-April, with most people expecting it to continue to the beginning of May. One of my students, who is the director of a small company, has said the Government is warning businesses to prepare to be closed until the end of May, or even the end of June!

However, we know it’s the right thing to do – unlike many people in the UK, it seems! Our local GP, and the head of the school have both succumbed, with the GP being in hospital for several days. I’ve not heard how he’s doing. Tonight I’m meeting Friend Alison for a virtual apero – FriendCathy, in the UK at present, was invited but she thinks it’s possible she has the virus too.

The cats know what to do!!

Actually our cats love having us round, especially Jasper and Millie, who follow the sun around Mr FD’s study. I get Bib coming to meeow at some of my late afternoon students!


Caught Up (kinda!)

Do you know, I’m not sure how helpful it is for me, or for anyone else, to read about how I failed at completing 40 Acts this year, so I think I’m going to stop blogging about what I haven’t done, but rather briefly think about what I have done. If anyone wants to follow 40 Acts, the blog is here so you can read it for yourself.

For ACT 13 I posted some Ninja notes through random post boxes, some with Bible verses, others with encouraging sayings

For ACT 15 I tried to pray whenever I felt prompted…which wasn’t very often, I must admit!!

For ACT 16 I promised our neighbours, who are facing the closure oftheir restaurant, that we would support them in their takeaway business. So far, that’s meant three pizzas and two slices of gorgeous Chocolate-Apricot gateau! Not exactly a hardship! We are also committed to shopping locally – partly through necessity, but also to support small businesses through this difficult time.

For ACT 18 we are driving much less…!!! (Though not necessarily by choice) Isn’t it amazing how Venice is so clean when the everyday traffic stops


For ACT 23 I am trying hard not to moan through this confinement period: we know it is for the good of our health, and the good of others’; we have work to do and so can earn money; we are able to go out for a short walk in the beautiful countryside round here (1 km from our homes, no more than 1 hour, go alone); there are supplies in the local supermarket & other shops. We are lucky. I know there are people confined in small appartments with children, trying to work, or unable to work, worried about where money is going to come from…so definitely NO COMPLAINING!!1

For ACT 24 I’m telling you about LEND WITH CARE which is, in my opinion a great charity to support. Now I give a £15 voucher to any young couple I know getting married (!) so they can choose who to support on a new venture, as they start on their new life together. And it’s the gift that keeps giving: as you are paid back, you can lend to another entrepreneur. With an outlay of my initial £15 I think I have supported 4 or 5 people starting new businesses.

There! I’ve caught up in a more positive way!!


I’ve got three lessons this afternoon, and quite honestly I’d rather just have a nap…

40 Acts Disaster!

OK, I imagine that the lack of 40 Acts posts tell you that maybe this year it hasn’t gone as well as it might have done…

To be honest, the Covid-19 virus has rather overtaken things, with advice, then directives coming from the French government. So since Sunday all schools, and shops except food and pharmacy shops were closed; on Monday we heard that Language centres and other non-essential businesses were to close, and finally on Tuesday, from mid-day onwards we were in lockdown, only allowed to leave our homes to go food shopping, to go to essential work, to go to the doctors or pharmacy, or to go (singly) for exercise. And for any of these activities, we have to print off (for each day) a document to be signed “on our honour” that we are partaking in one of these activities.

Mr FD was sent home on Monday afternoon, as was I, and I spent the rest of the day contacting students to set a “virtual classroom” in place. My Language Centre, Bonjour World, have been really proactive finding a really easy-to-use site for video lessons, other sites to help us, contacting students etc. Whereas the other has been a bit “do your own thing”. Happily for me, as auto entrepreneur, most of my students have agreed to either having phone lessons, or trying the virtual classroom, which means I’m unlikely to lose money.

The French Government have also been good, promising a something-billion € package to ensure that people don’t lose out on income (as much as is possible) through the situation. It’s a weird place we’re in now, waiting to see if any symptoms develop, but we are fairly optimistic. One guy at Mr FD’s work went off sick before the Lockdown,with a fever and other symptoms, but we’ve not had news of how he is. We are both coughing, and have sore throats, but as this has been lingering for quite some time, without getting worse, we are assuming that it’s the tail end of a cold.

Christ Church, Clermont Ferrand, is organising a “virtual church” on Sunday through Zoom, at 10.30 CET – if anyone would like to join us, let me know and I’ll send you information. Bishop Mark Edington is also putting together an e-book of reflections for Morning Prayer, to which various members of the Convocation are contributing – including me! It is to sustain Christians (& others) who are finding the confinement difficult. He says:

Dear Friends,

I don’t know about you, but I am already sensing

— A rising degree of cabin fever

— A longing to see my friends and fellow-disciples

— A genuine need for companionship and fellowship in the weeks ahead

— A feeling that I need to >do< something

So I have an idea.

Let’s create a Convocation Companion for everyone in all of our congregations for the days ahead.

It will go from now until April 17— which (I earnestly hope) the day the present 30-day ban on travel into or out of the Schengen zone will be lifted.

If any reader would like the link, please say so in the comments below.

But despite not following 40 Acts, I am trying to still be generous – I am going out for my solitary walk each day, and I’m planning on putting Ninja notes, packets of seeds, and maybe other treats in people’s letter boxes. I probably will avoid chocklit and other edibles as I wonder if people might be suspicious of them. I have some bookmarks that I bought in Noz, I have the packets of seeds that I bought, and I might start doing some post card sized zentangles. Things that might bring a smile to people’s faces!

I don’t have too much time at the moment, as teaching at distance requires a bit more work – planning in advance, but also a lesson summary and follow up work to be sent out. But I’m glad to be working and still earning money, even though I’ve had a few cancellations.

All I can say to you, my dear readers, is what I’m saying to everyone at the end of my emails:

Stay safe & keep washing your hands!



Various bits of art…

The verse from Proverbs that kicked off 40 Acts:

On Sunday I enjoyed playing with tissue paper and glue, creating this piece. I was planning to calligraph the words, but felt that this was a more harmonious way of adding them to the piece. I’m quite pleased with it.

This is a card I made for someone in Mr FD’s office. It was her birthday and Mr FD wanted to arrange something special for her. The “C” is because her name starts with a C, not for any random reason to do with crocodiles. I was a bit annoyed to find that my expensive white calligraphy felt pen had been left open, and so had dried up. The “Joyeux Anniversaire” is on a little blackboard, but unfortunately the writing was horrid, due to the aforementioned dried up state of the pen. So I had to do something different…

This is a piece I drew for friends from church who are going back to the States. Tom & Sheryl have been utter stalwarts and have really demonstrated Christianity in action. They will be surely missed. I wanted to give them something that was “of” Clermont Ferrand, and there is nothing more iconic of the area than Puy de Dome, the mountain that can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.

So that’s what I drew.

Live Car?

If you remember, a few posts back I told you that our little Fiat 500 died on us

We had to decide what to do, so having looked at a few cars, we’ve decided that we’re going to have to bite the bullet and buy a new car.And so the next thing was which one we’re going to buy. We test drove one on Wednesday night, and it seems a good medium sized car, with enough “poke” for motorway driving.

Dear Mr FD was going to try to organise the finance and hopefullyeverything will work out.

I don’t believe God is a “God of Parking Spaces” (that is, miraculously providing parking spaces when prayed for) but I do believe he takes an interest in the minutiae of our lives. So I prayed that we’d find the right car for us, as it’s necessary for us both to have one; as soon as I saw this one, it felt like I would be very happy driving this car.

Let’s hope things fall into place…

Does it come with an Itty Bitty Kitty too?!

ETA: there has been a problem with this car, afterall. Mr FD has unearthed the fact that it hasn’t had regular oil changes, which could have caused long term damage to the engine. So, the search continues…we’ll find The Right Car at some stage.